Thinking: to introduce the ENV model and help learners to think in terms of parameters, leading on to the Yes / No game and strong questions. Linguistic: Revising and expanding classroom and school vocabulary: the alphabet in English.

I’m trying to incorporate thinking tools into their coursebook work (Wow! 4). The chapter we are looking at teaches the alphabet and some general vocabulary through the game, ‘I spy with my little eye something beginning with…’. I thought that a natural extension of this game would be the yes/no game – an obvious paramater of words to do with the classroom is the letters they begin with, but by reducing the number of questions allowed they would have to ask about other parameters too.


I’m not sure if this part of my plan fits in exactly with the thinking task framework, as I’m using sorting and grouping to revise and build vocabulary necessary to play the yes/no game in the classroom setting, and I’m also helping them to build an ENV model, as I’m not actually sure how well this age group might understand the general idea. Once they have the idea, I’ll see if they realise they can apply it to the game when we play.

Step 1
( In this case not a problem, but building up a bank of words.)

We discussed how useful it would be to know as many words as possible for the things surrounding us and for what we use every day. I gave each pair/group of pupils many small slips of paper and asked them to write out as many words as they could (one on each slip) which were all things they could see in the classroom. They had 10 minutes in which to do this, but in the end I extended it to 15 minutes as they were working so hard and enthusiastically, fetching extra paper from me, checking words from their books, looking in the dictionary and helping each other. When they were ready, they all wanted to count their words, and the group with the most had 80 words!

Step 2 ( Building a tool, ENV, although I do see that they probably don’t see the necessity for it at the moment, except that they enjoyed the time limit and trying to find more groups than the others.)I told them we should try to make a clear chart  to help us to organise in our minds what things can be seen in the classroom. I then asked them, still in pairs (and one group of three) to sort the words they had into groups. They had 10 minutes, and they had to be able to tell me the names of the groups. I thought I might have to explain more, but they got down to it immediately and had a lot of discussion about what words did or didn’t belong together. I then wrote up their suggestions for groups, which were as follows:  COLOURS, SCHOOL THINGS, PARTS OF THE BODY, LIVING THINGS (this group started as ‘names’, then changed to ‘people’ and when one group said, ‘But we’ve got plants.’, they themselves suggested putting them all together under living things), CLOTHES, FURNITURE, PARTS OF THE ROOM and ELECTRONICS.
After this they drew three colmns in a page in their notebooks,and in the first column we wrote the words, IN THE CLASSROOM, in the second we wrote the parameters they’d thought up, and in the third they wrote down the words they’d found which were values for particular parameters. This was very interesting as they noticed that some words fitted in more than one place and that they had some words which didn’t fit anywhere (what about ‘map’, ‘dice’, ‘calendar’, ‘magnet’?) – the lesson ended here, and they’re still trying to think what to call these parameters.

This lesson went very quickly, they worked very hard the whole time and we had interesting discussions. The linguistic aims were met – they remembered words well, found many new ones themselves and repeated them many times in the process of doing the grouping task and in helping each other. They also learned in English many of the words for the parameters. As for the thinking aims, I should probably have made the aim, or task, of organising the words even clearer. I could have given a task - to work out how to organise a large group of words – maybe they would have come up with something similar to ENV themselves. As the lesson ended on them being stuck with the parameters (and I really don’t know a good answer myself), we’ll start the next lesson by reflecting on how we’ve organised our words and if it’s a good way of doing it ( Step 3 – reflection, how well our ‘tool’ worked?).


# Alexander Sokol 2011-03-08 14:19
Susan, why not try to play the yes-no game the next lesson? I think the game itself may create the context for introducing the ENV (they will get stuck trying to guess the object by asking quite a few questions). Then you can remind them of the work in the previous lesson and they will probably narrow the research area by asking about the parameters. However, if the word you think about doesn't belong to those parameters you put down, they'll probably be stuck again. And here you'll have the context for inviting them to apply the ENV model and think about other parameters of an object they are looking for. Here, you may come up to location, shape, colour, etc. You can then take location and try to demonstrate to them how you can reduce the research area. In fact, you can even let them think about an object and then you guess it by dividing the room into half several times in turn. Eventually, it'll bring you to the exact location of the object and you'll easily guess it as long as they though of sth visible (you can make this a pre-condition if you want).
What do you think?
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